London Fire Brigade

Prevent grass fires during warm spell

28 March 2012

London’s fire chiefs are asking the public to take care to prevent grass fires in the capital during the unseasonably warm March weather.

Dave Brown, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Operations and Mobilising, said: “We don’t normally get grass fires in London until the summer months but we’ve had a few across the capital over the past week. Fortunately most of them have been relatively minor and crews have got them under control quickly but it won’t take much for one of them to develop into a larger fire.

“We’d ask the public to ensure that cigarettes are disposed of properly, a small spark from a cigarette is often all it takes to start a grass fire in these dry conditions. Drivers also need to take care not to throw cigarettes out of car windows as they can easily burn grass verges.”

Today, Wednesday 28 March, the Brigade has attended approximately ten small grass or bush fires, including a tree alight on Hampstead Heath, a grass verge alight in Barnet, bushes alight in Feltham and grass fires in Feltham, Rainham and Bow. This number of incidents is virtually unprecedented for this time of year.

Grass and forest fires account for over one in ten of all fires attended by the Brigade. Grass fires can spread extremely quickly and pose a huge threat to wildlife, parkland and even people’s lives. The main causes of accidental grass fires are barbecues, cigarettes, discarded matches and glass bottles, which, when left on dry grass can concentrate the sun’s rays and cause fires. Firefighters advise that barbecues are never left unattended and are completely out after being used. Cigarettes should be carefully disposed of as they can easily ignite dry grass. Firefighters are particularly concerned about drivers who throw lit cigarettes out of car windows as dry grass verges can easily go up in flames.

The Brigade advises that if you see a grass fire, you shouldn’t attempt to put it out yourself as grass fires can travel very quickly and change direction without warning. You should call 999 immediately and tell the Brigade where the fire is.